Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Stairway to engagement: SIENA and the European DCIs in Brussels

To reach SIENA’s ‘Engaging European DCIs together’ event this morning in Brussels, delegates descended a wide sweeping marble staircase, lined with elegant floor-to-ceiling mirrors – it made you feel rather like you were walking onto a Hollywood set. This seemed like a suitably grand curtain-up on what will be the next act of the e-Infrastructures production in Europe – the start up of the six pan-European Distributed Computing Infrastructures projects: European Grid Infrastructure (EGI-InSPIRE), European Middleware Initiative (EMI), Initiative for Globus in Europe (IGE), European Desktop Grid Initiative (EDGI), StratusLab and Venus-C. All of these six grand slam projects have either already started, or will gear up over the summer and will together shape the face of DCI in Europe over the next 4 years and more.

Kostas Glinos, Head of the Géant & Infrastructures Unit, DG INFSO in the European Commission gave an overview of what the EC expects from the e-Infrastructures landscape. In the recent call, the EC has distributed upwards of 80 million Euros – it will not be until the FP8 calls of 2014 that such a significant amount of money will again be targeted in these areas. Several EC influences have led to this level of investment. The Lisbon Treaty established the ‘fifth freedom’ in the European Research Area – free movement of knowledge and technology. The EU2020 strategy adopted in March calls for smart, sustainable and diffuse growth in these areas and the seven pillars of the new Digital Agenda also call for promotion of e-skills, research and innovation. This all leads to a strong mandate from the EC to help the ERA transition to e-Science and to support researchers as they engage with the challenges facing society, such as in the areas of health and the environment.

For the EC, there is a balance to be struck between the supplier driven infrastructure and the needs of its users. What qualities will give the infrastructures real box office draw for the new user communities lining up to join the cast, such as the ESFRI projects? The EC is asking the DCIs to work together to help to define those star qualities. This meeting gave the projects an opportunity to set out the parts that they expect to play in the overall drama, and to start to work towards a common script - particularly in how to achieve sustainability, interoperability and reliability in the long term. SIENA, Standards and Interoperability for eInfrastructure ImplemeNtation InitiAtive will be working in the areas of interoperability and standards, particularly through its roadmap workshops and the Cloudscape series of events. Successor to dissemination project GridTalk, e-ScienceTalk, will also be on hand to report on the twists and turns in the plot through the GridCafé website, weekly online journal iSGTW and the GridBriefings.

So as we reach what has been described as the 'end of the beginning', for now, cue the opening credits...

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